Home from a wedding weekend in the Palouse. A farmer/rancher/ kiltish wedding in an old church in a pint-sized town, and a reception in a big red barn converted into an event venue. Quite the time, complete with horse drawn buggies and wheat-filled centerpieces, a bride wearing cowboy boots, and a groom in a large cowboy hat. The bride (my oldest niece), a Palouse-country farm-girl with a master's degree, who works in the beef industry, and her Kansas farm-boy, hog-turned-cattle-rancher groom stood in front of God and everyone and pledged their lives to each other, pledged to make each other the first priority, and to love their neighbor in the bed before they love the neighbor in the world. My oldest daughter stood as a bridesmaid, my younger ran her feet to bloody pulps in high-heels as the wedding co-ordinator and we all ate steaks as large as the horizon (and no, thank you, I don't feel like sharing!), and laughed together beneath the rafters. My family is slightly more citified than my brother-in-law's, and our kilts were quite the contrast to the ten-gallon hats and cowboy boots, but we raised our glasses together in toast, as my nephew encouraged the just created newlyweds to look around the room at all those raised hands. "All these hands belong to people who love you, and are here for you, to support you now and in the days to come."
My niece's wedding day was the 54th anniversary of the day my parents married. Mom was in attendence Saturday. When Beve, the Dump and I got to her nursing home to pick her up for the ceremony, she burst into laughter at Beve's kilt and immediately tried to lift it. I'm pretty sure she didn't know where we were going, and I'm positive that she had already forgotten where she'd been by the time we took her back, but she was there for the moment. For the photographer, having Mom in the pictures was like dealing with a toddler. Everyone else simply held their smiles, while he clapped and made faces at her. Mom doesn't have vision problems, but sometimes now, ever when a person is right in her grill, breathing on her, she can't see them. Her brain just doesn't tell her eyes what she's seeing.
Just before the ceremony began, my niece and almost husband called the families all together and lit a memory candle for those who weren't present, the ones we wished could be there with us. It was then that my eyes smarted, thinking of the man who loved his first grand-daughter, who would have smiled quietly at her and given her a long, firm hug. As we walked back out of the church to await our cue, I knelt down beside Mom's wheelchair on the front steps of the church, and reminded her that it was her wedding anniversary. "Do you remember?" I asked her.
She shook her head, instantly crying. "I forgot," she said, suddenly completely lucid. "I thought it was a dream."
"No, Mom," I answered. "It was your real life. And you really loved Dad."
"I can't remember," she said.
"It's okay, we all remember. We remember your marriage, and your whole life." I said. "We are holding your memories for you."
"Oh, I'm so glad," she said. "Thank you."
So it w as a good day. A day to face forward, honoring the wedding of this lovely new couple. And a day to face backwards, remembering a wedding we hadn't attended, of the ones who began this family. How thankful I am for both.